Have you ever wondered where the name of the famous Michelin Guide (pronounced like this) comes from? If it sounds familiar and, if what springs to mind is the big white mascot made of Michelin tires, you’re right. In 1900, the French automotive industry had only about 3,000 vehicles on the road, so brothers André and Edouard Michelin, founders of the tire brand, decided to provide motorists with a guide to make their journeys more enjoyable and with the aim of boosting interest in car travel.
A work that appears with the century and will last as long as the century
It seems the Michelins were visionaries, as André wrote in the introduction of the first publication of the guide, “This work appears with the century and will last as long as the century.” And he was right; what began as a simple quasi-travel pamphlet is today one of the most prestigious gastronomic guides in the world. In the beginning, the guide included a great deal of practical information such as maps, instructions for changing a tire, accommodations, and suggestions for places to eat along the way. It was free and very useful, but to André’s surprise, upon entering a tire shop one day, he discovered that stacks of them were being used to balance the legs of a bench.
The birth of the Michelin stars
From that moment, the brothers decided to sell the guide for 7 francs in order to give it a perceived value. Recognizing that the restaurant section had been a success, they hired a group of mystery diners, known today as inspectors, to visit and anonymously evaluate the restaurants. It was in 1926 that the now famous stars came into being. Restaurants that are considered excellent within their category are awarded one star, while two stars signifies top quality cuisine. Restaurants are awarded three stars if they are deemed worthy of making a trip for the sole purpose of tasting the delicacies on offer.
There are even two street stalls in the guide
Since the guide is dictated by the principle of eating well, it’s possible to find everything from the most expensive and luxurious restaurants (which, admittedly, are the predominant ones) to two street stalls in the guide:
Jay Fai in Bangkok
This stall may be 10 times more expensive than any other in the city, but they have been serving top quality Thai food in plentiful portions for over 30 years.
Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle in Singapur
It’s always a good sign when a street food stand is popular with the locals too, and here you’re sure to taste some of the best noodles of your life.
Currently, there are 141 restaurants in the world with three Michelin stars
Here is a handful of them:
Benu (San Francisco, USA / Asian)
L’Enclume (Cartmel, UK / creative)
Atrio (Cáceres, Spain / creative)
Boury (Roeselare, Belgium / French creative)
Le Cinq (Paris, France / modern cuisine)
Maaemo (Oslo, Norway / modern cuisine)
schanz.restaurant. (Piesport, Germany / modern French)
Frantzén (Stockholm, Sweden / modern cuisine)
Villa Crespi (Orta San Giulio, Italy / creative)
Gaon (Seoul, South Korea / Korean)
*Article prepared with information from guide.michelin.com